More Grace: On Not Being Mean, Hateful, and Horrible
by Jen Hatmaker on March 5th, 2013

I’ve had a rash of negative missives lately (see: Facebook), and it’s had me thinking for weeks. Questions like, when did we become so mean? And, have we lost all semblance of kindness? And, is criticism the plague of our generation? And, is the Christian community marked by callousness? And, should I give lessons on satire?
 
So I turned those questions inward and didn’t like what I found. I struggle with an impulse to critique, to deconstruct, to dismantle. I too easily write people off and assume the worst. I am undoubtedly my own worst enemy. I see sharp edges that need softened, and I realize every problem has the same answer:
 
More grace.
 
This just might heal the world, mend relationships, sooth our inner turmoil. It could grease the machine of humanity and keep it running rather than grinding to a halt, stalled out for lack of mercy. It reminds us we are brothers and sisters, not demigods over one another. It is the way Jesus came, and it is precisely what saved our souls.
 
So in an attempt to be the change I hope to see, these are the goals in front of me:
 
MORE GRACE FOR MYSELF
 
I will stop the inner voice that batters me day and night. I’ll not listen to the whispers assuring me all hope is lost, nothing good is happening, I could be doing so much better. That voice is so debilitating. She is like the gang leader of a prison mafia. You blew off the fifth chore chart in two years? I will shank you!
 
No more. I will name the little lovely things, the beautiful moments, the good parts. Small victories deserve noticing. None of us are good at everything, but all of us are great at something. No rule requires focus on the parts we get wrong. There is always, always something worthy to honor if we’re brave enough to live like that.
 
We will show grace to ourselves, because how dare we rob our transformed hearts of the mercy Jesus won for us already. Living in guilt and despair is such a drag. There is too much goodness, too much love, too much possibility to go on like that. Enough of it. Let us live in the wide open spaces we’ve been granted, and laugh and dance and celebrate and notice the ordinary little wonders we are conditioned to minimize.
 
MORE GRACE FOR MY HUSBAND
 
I will stop expecting him to read my mind, decode my body language, meet all my needs, and shut the cabinet doors (<---okay, just please, this one). We’ve logged 19 years of marriage, and that sort of longevity deserves more mercy, more apologies, more celebrating.
 
I can hardly think of a horrible fight disagreement we’ve had that grace wouldn’t have unscrambled. Every misunderstanding could’ve been truncated. Every ounce of tension lessened. Now, we’ll never be that lovey-dovey couple who writes sappy things on Facebook to each other. We don’t get vows renewed; we get tattoos. We are who we are. In our marriage, grace won’t mean what it might in yours. All I know is, rather than a list of techniques to work on (“What I hear you saying is my refusal to put things in our shared iCalendar makes you want to put my paper calendar in the wood chipper…”), all our junk can be soothed if not solved altogether by the simple addition of more grace.
 
What do any of us face together where this isn’t true?
Imagine the most pressing issue you are dealing with in your marriage. Now take away the need to be right, to be the winner, to nurture the injury like a little pet, keeping it safe and thriving and growing. Now add grace – undeserved maybe, unexpected perhaps. Persistent, warm, selfless mercy can turn even the biggest ship around.
 
MORE GRACE FOR MY KIDS
 
I spoke at an adoption conference last weekend, and although unclear on my actual contribution, I left with renewed resolve to show my children far more grace than they deserve I have offered lately. You know what’s hard? Being a kid. Remember the fears you harbored and the weird ideas that confused you and the secret worry that everything might careen off course? You know what else is hard? Being adopted internationally. You know what else? Welcoming in two new siblings and Figuring.All.That.Out. You know what else? Having us as parents. Also, apparently it is very hard to put socks in the dirty clothes basket and take turns talking (my full car is God’s tool for my personal sanctification).
 
There is a reason God told us His kindness leads us to repentance. His holiness awes me. His righteousness humbles me. His power shocks me. But it is His kindness that moves me to repentance, to adoration, to transformation. Grace just wears down your defenses after awhile. At some point, it becomes clear: this person is really for me.
 
So I’m going to try to lead with grace for my kids. I hope to laugh first, listen longer, forgive quicker, surprise them with mercy. I will attempt to find the gracious response, even in discipline, even in exhaustion, even in pull-my-hair-out-rend-my-garments frustration. For instance, if a son, hypothetically, didn’t complete his reading minutes and upon an inquiry by his teacher he replied, “I can’t do my homework because we have very late dinners,” although we eat at 6:00pm and blaming your mother for your personal abdication is for chumps, well, I suppose grace has a place in there somewhere, though I didn’t necessarily find that gear last week. Hypothetically.
 
MORE GRACE FOR THE CHURCH, CAPITAL C
 
It is no secret that I struggle with the Church. Trust me, I didn’t want the role of a prophet, yet I find myself hungering for a better Bride, pushing for reform, traveling further away from the safe confines of American Christendom, finding my own spiritual heartbeat in the words of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Amos. Sometimes my discontent with the Church I see is so intense, I fight the urge to run away from the whole mechanism and search for something that looks more like a hospital for the sick and a sanctuary for sinners. I think more Jesus is the answer, not more staff, more buildings, more mailers, more landscaping, more fish tanks.
 
I want to be a part of the answer, but so often I’m still part of the problem.
 
But when I get quiet and still and drop down from the 30,000-foot view, and I look around at real people and real life, I see the Church rising up everywhere in all her glory. I see brave, ordinary disciples literally changing the world. People are being loved, lives are being honored, bellies are being fed. I see this, because it is happening. It is happening, because regular people are following Jesus into the kingdom. They are doing this, and I love them for it so intensely, these brothers and sisters of mine. I am so proud. These are my people, my family, and I treasure their stories as my own, tucked into my heart, giving me ridiculous courage.
 
The Church needs more grace, and I am going to give it to her. Since when did anything but grace comprise the family of God? If all we have is doctrine and theology and morality, or if all we have is prophecy and fire and deconstruction, then we are nothing, a resounding gong, a clanging cymbal. If grace doesn’t bind us, then religion will destroy us.
 
I will still beg for more from this little family of ours, I still hope justice becomes our brand and mercy our calling card, but I will also remember that some are far, far ahead of me and I am further down the road than others, yet we are all moving forward, navigating the narrow path.
 
So many of us are trying, and that deserves grace.
 
As life carries on, I hope my edges soften, my defenses weaken. I so desperately want it said of me that I loved well. I don’t want to be the theologically-fierce, prophetically-intense rock that everyone else breaks against, nor do I care to be the critical, bitter cynic that suffocates people with critiques from the wings. That is so exhausting and numbing.
 
Rather, I want to gather my own little chicks, my husband I’ve been married to as many years as I haven’t, and I want to open my arms to this messy, complicated spiritual family of ours and call forth everything beautiful, lovely, brave, call out each wonderful moment, act of courage, show of mercy, and walk gently forward together, letting grace fill the spaces and offering the benefit of the doubt with abandon.
 
Grace is the beginning of freedom, and there isn’t a corner of earth that doesn’t need more of it.
 
So let’s give it.
 
 
Need to show more grace? To yourself? Spouse or kids? And…how ‘bout the Church? (That crazy Bride.) Tell me. Let’s hold hands and pray for grace to ruin us all.



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167 Comments

Katie - March 5th, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Totally needed this.
Cari - March 5th, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Thank you, again. You are an inspiration.
Rose - March 5th, 2013 at 11:46 AM
Agreed with Katie
Lesley - March 5th, 2013 at 11:50 AM
I JUST wrote about how to be a better church member this week - including...believing the best about our brothers and sisters, making love and unity our banner, dying to ourselves rather than fighting for our way...acting from a place of love and compassion changes EVERYTHING. And it makes us so much happier, doesn't it? I loved this post - thanks, as always, for your honesty. I plan to practice everything you shared here, starting NOW.
Love you!
Sarah @ An Inviting Home - March 5th, 2013 at 11:50 AM
I definitely needed to read this, thank you Jen! I need to give more grace and give myself more grace...I need a floodgate of GRACE.

http://www.aninvitinghome.com/2013/02/the-realitydiscovering-my-limits-and.html

~Sarah

morgan - March 5th, 2013 at 11:50 AM
I wish I would have learned the concept of grace earlier in my life. I went to church three times a week in my first eighteen years of life and I had never heard a sermon preached on grace.
Mariah - March 5th, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Grace for my husband, who sleeps through the cries of our new babe. Grace for my babe, who cries when I wish she was sleeping. Grace for me, who cries and cries. Less tears would be nice, but more grace will be better.
Abby Norman - March 5th, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Oh Mariah, Today I am praying grace over you and your tiny babe and your tiny family. Mine are 16 month a part and I remember how hard it was that first time around with my baby crying and my husband snoring and my exhaustion like waves crashing over me, drowning in the sleeplessness. Grace to you, rest to you. I am praying God meets you in the hard times today. You are not alone.
Leigh Ann - March 5th, 2013 at 9:08 PM
Yes, Mariah! We've been there and it is equal parts mind numbing and beautiful. I always said it was the best of times and the worst of times. You certainly aren't alone. Praying for you tonight...these times are hard, but amazingly you'll look back on them so wistfully. For all of us with big kids who not want to be hugged so much anymore because moms aren't super cool, give that little angel an extra squeeze. Love and peace to you.
Debbie - March 5th, 2013 at 9:40 PM
Oh I am praying for you, Mariah. Been there, done that, (still doing that some nights) lying in bed crying to God to PLEASE let my little baby sleep because I NEEDED sleep. Amazingly you WILL make it through and it will be one of those times when it is obvious God brought you through because you have no recollection of making it through! :-) God's grace is evidenced through new babies...
Krista - March 5th, 2013 at 11:51 AM
Jen - this is also my heart's cry - that I would be someone who walks in the rhythm of grace, for myself and others. Mercy preceding demand. Always in God's economy. And yet.... how often is that not true in my own life? Even if just in my thought life.... yet that is where the war is won or lost...in the mind. Standing with you in this tension today. And praying... always praying... that His heart would flood mine. Thank you for your words.
Amy Hunt - March 5th, 2013 at 11:51 AM
AMEN! He's been working on me with the grace for groom, kid, and me thing most especially. Amen! It's a die to self (pride) thing that aches, but is just so necessary to live. Truly.
Robin Estep - March 5th, 2013 at 11:52 AM
Just what I needed to hear ..... Not necessarily what I wanted to hear...

Thank you for being real, not transparent!!!!!

RahRah
Cheryl - March 5th, 2013 at 11:52 AM
Great word Jen. I want to join your bandwagon of grace! I pray you will be a strong voice for the normal, faithful people who make up the church. It is not a perfect place but it is the place where most of us live and find our community and stumble along together following Jesus. It is where I spend most of my days and we staff-type people can be the most critical of all. And then I pause and see these amazing Jesus-loving people who surround me and I want to be more like them. I am thankful for all the non-professional Christians who lead me, teach me and shepherd me. Perhaps this will be the year of loving the sheep, learning from the sheep and not beating the sheep! Thanks for all you do!
Jayni - March 5th, 2013 at 11:53 AM
Thank you..... I thought for a moment you were the 'little voice in my head' as I read this!

Grace- the undeserved love that is freely given with no strings attached..... eVErrrr...

Thank you Jesus for Jens words that resonate through me..... .. =D You must have known it was a 'snow day' here in WI....I needed this. smile...
Jill - March 5th, 2013 at 11:54 AM
Beautifully written, as always. You are amazing.
Leslie - March 5th, 2013 at 11:54 AM
Thank you for this. I needed it right down in my soul. It reminds me to have grace and to receive grace. And it reminds me that I need to step out of the shadows and away from fear so I can start letting God shine and get His glory. He's got plans; I need to not get in the way.
Angie Baker - March 5th, 2013 at 11:54 AM
I am in! I in awe that you are in a very similar place of enlightenment as myself. I have laughed and cried at your facebook posts and never once remember that you were really human. LOL! I can't thank you enough for this blog today because it is EXACTLY what I needed and I also needed to know that I am not alone in my thinking. This crazy messy beautiful life does indeed need a truck load of grace and I for one need to stop the criticism of others and their role in MY world's collapse and stand up and take charge of my own little place in this world by smothering those I come in contact with all the grace they can stand. Thank you Jen! You are a treasure!
Nicole - March 5th, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Last night I was given the opportunity to show grace to a family member who is in a hard place. It was refreshing and I think the needle was moved forward, just a little. Prov. 11:25 "...refresh others and you yourself will be refreshed." Turn the love out!!!
Marie - March 5th, 2013 at 11:57 AM
LOVE it. especially the chore chart failure shanking. and also, more grace. you inspire me.
Sandy - March 5th, 2013 at 11:57 AM
Love this!! A big AMEN Sister!!

Kelli Estes - March 5th, 2013 at 11:57 AM
Jen I too long to be part of the answer and I fear on some of my best days I'm still part of the problem. Thanks for these incredibly transparent words...as a young pastor's wife...I needed this reminder of grace!
Allie - March 5th, 2013 at 11:58 AM
You worded this all so beautifully. And I really needed to read this today. So thank for speaking God's truth and making me cry!
Lenabelle - March 5th, 2013 at 11:58 AM
I needed this today. I thank you for sharing and inspiring me.
Brandee - March 5th, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Thank you, this is awesome as usual. I especially need to give myself more grace.
Kylie - March 5th, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Grace. My mantra for the last year. Tattooed it to my wrist in fact. Yet I still have much to learn...
Beautiful post. Loved every word!
Heather - March 5th, 2013 at 11:59 AM
Nailed it, Jen. I was really struggling with #'s 1 & 2 yesterday. Thank you for letting The Lord speak through you. I will be reading this again and sharing it. "Let's hold hands and pray for grace to ruin us all."
Nancy - March 5th, 2013 at 11:59 AM
LOVE this! Thank you for the reminder! You contnue to motivate me for Christ's sake. His Grace is always enough, yet we (I) am so quick to withhold it. XOXO
Jenn V. - March 5th, 2013 at 12:04 PM
A-stinkin-men! So happy to be in a church under the leadership of you and your husband!
Laurie - March 5th, 2013 at 12:05 PM
God's been stirring in my heart this week that with all my talk of giving grace, I am missing the mark. My desire for perfection - perfection from my husband, my children and my Church is damaging my relationships. If I truly want to love like Jesus (my goal for 2013), my actions better start matching my words.

Thanking God today for reiterating his message to me through your words! :)
Nikki - March 5th, 2013 at 12:06 PM
I just started reading 7 and my head is spinning. I think we were separated at birth! My mind is my worst enemy. I am trying so hard to be kinder to myself so I can love my beautiful family fearlessly and all others with Grace. Thank you for this today, there is so much good out there I just know it!
Peace, love & Jesus!
Kate - March 5th, 2013 at 12:13 PM
All of these definitely convict me. And I definitely will pray for God to remind me of these as I walk through each day. One small suggestion, though: you might want to consider putting up a little disclaimer for those who are witnessing or who are suffering physical, spiritual, or sexual abuse within their homes and churches. This is rampant within The Church and many are remaining silent because they want to "believe the best" about their husbands, friends, or their church leaders.

Thank you for posting this :)
Amy Ness - March 5th, 2013 at 12:14 PM
Yep, I've blown off 5 chore charts in 2 years too and have shanked myself up!!! I roared with laughter as I read this....more grace for me!! More grace for that internal mafia leader of mine!! I soooo needed this TODAY! Thank you
Shannon - March 5th, 2013 at 12:14 PM
Beautiful truth spilled out on this page. Grace for myself, my people, my church, this world. Grace for the righteous and the downtrodden, the sinners and the saints, those I love, and those I...well, don't love so much! Thank you for being a vessel used for His glory.
Debi - March 5th, 2013 at 12:16 PM
After falling away from legalism and into God's grace years ago, I find my heart still needs constant reminders of the Gospel and the grace shown to me through it. I find it easy to say others need to show more grace, and yet, I am equally guilty of contributing to more critique and judgement and write-off-those-yahoo's-ness. Thanks for a great reminder. Glad we all have each other to keep us returning to truth.
Sarah - March 5th, 2013 at 12:17 PM
LOVE
Patty - March 5th, 2013 at 12:21 PM
I needed this today. More Grace towards all that you mentioned minus the husband. I'm divorced but God did teach me to show grace to my ex-husband many years ago while teaching me about forgiveness. Thanking God for speaking to me through your words.
laurie - March 5th, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Bullseye
alta blake - March 5th, 2013 at 12:28 PM
So timely and soooooo convicting. Love your transparency Jen....thank you. Jesus loves you and I do too :-)
Heather Disarro - March 5th, 2013 at 12:31 PM
First of all I am smack dab in the middle of 7 (the book, not the project...yet) and I absolutely adore it, you, and the way God is smacking me upside my head through your words. Awesome.

But in that, I also find that it's harder and harder to give myself grace when I miss the mark (always) in the things that I know I should and shouldn't do. Isn't it crazy how we expect grace and yet can't seem to dole it out? I love this list...and clearly should be making my own. Like, yesterday!
Kathleen - March 5th, 2013 at 12:32 PM
I have read some of your posts here and there but just started following regularly. It's for posts like these- ones that normalize my experience, encourage my faith, deepen my commitment to grace and love, help me move away from deeply rooted anger at issues in the church. Thank you.
Tabatha - March 5th, 2013 at 12:34 PM
This post speaks right to my heart, and something I desperately needed to hear the day after finishing two (last minute) science projects. Thank you. I think I will print a copy and carry it with me at all times.
Leslie - March 5th, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Ugh. (in a good way) Love you, girl.
Emily - March 5th, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Grace for myself who I'm completely convinced is doing everything wrong and who is almost always gripped by fear. Grace for my family who does the best that they can with that they've been given. Grace for my healing heart. Just lots of Grace. Thank you for your beautiful words.
Michelle - March 5th, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Awesome! Love your words and you! Thanks for being REAL!
Carrie - March 5th, 2013 at 12:45 PM
I relate to it all!! Thank you for your honesty and transparency...and your humor!! I love reading your blog! It is always so encouraging and just what I need to hear!
Krista Resnick - March 5th, 2013 at 12:49 PM
BEAUTIFUL JEN!!!!! I LOVE this with every fiber of my being-thank you!!!!
Lora Loggins Hill - March 5th, 2013 at 12:49 PM
I love you, Jen. You always, always hit the nail squarely on the head. God help me.
Carmen - March 5th, 2013 at 12:50 PM
You heard it here first, folks. Forget about renewing your vows....GET TATTOOS! That is as bonding an experience as anything. ;-)
Melanie - March 5th, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Love love love this and I so needed to be reminded. Thank you!!!
Jenny - March 5th, 2013 at 12:59 PM
This message was for ME. Thank you for saying what you say and saying it so well. God is speaking through you to gals like me. Help me, Lord, to be more grace-full!!
Susanne K - March 5th, 2013 at 1:06 PM
that was truly beautifu! I totally needed to read this today.
Helen - March 5th, 2013 at 1:11 PM
Grace! I really didn't want to hear that today but oh my goodness I needed to hear it. Hallelujah, what a saviour!
Tonia Booker - March 5th, 2013 at 1:22 PM
YEP!
Melissa - March 5th, 2013 at 1:28 PM
So true. Love reading your posts. They resonate so much to me.
JR - March 5th, 2013 at 1:30 PM
Came to this conclusion recently after reading 'Accidental Pharisees' it was pretty eye-opening....but also that first bit about grace for self...seems the hardest but if we could just grasp it..life would be so much sweeter...
Happilyperryed - March 5th, 2013 at 1:34 PM
Loved this. Two months of extreme morning sickness (lying shakily on the couch while my seven year old feeds the other kids breakfast, etc) has me begging for grace... Nothing like a raw, physical need to show you spiritual truth as well! But just for the record, I love, Jen, how you challenge me and post authentic stuff that shows you're a real person, a Mom raising a family with kids who don't turn in homework and need Dad to straighten them out once in a while when you've had too much. Love that. As we women bond together for more grace and rely on His goodness, please promise me you won't become a spokesperson at the local Christian bookstore for Testamints or Jesus Juke your awesome cray-cray side. ;)
Danielle D. - March 7th, 2013 at 9:40 PM
Testamints :)
Dana - March 5th, 2013 at 1:47 PM
"There is always, always something worthy to honor if we%u2019re brave enough to live like that."
Are you kidding me? Brave is my word for 2013 and grace is a strong second. UGH.
Laura - March 5th, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Hmm. Totally agree with what you said. I have been a brat lately & I know it. Timing of this - perfection!
Julia - March 5th, 2013 at 2:16 PM
well written. thank you.
Rena Gunther - March 5th, 2013 at 2:20 PM
Yes, YES, YES!!!!! OHHHHH that we, THAT I would grasp grace! Return to grace!!! To remember that the law came and only revealed our desperate need of a Savior. That we could! Not! Keep! It! I am only now, at 43, realizing my lack of grasp, lack of revelation of the love of Christ, the grace of our Lord. My prayer is for a deep revelation of His love and grace. As I've often heard from one particular Christian--"Lord, give us a baptism in your love!" YES! YES! YES! I need this for myself first. The more we grasp this, the more we are able to extend it.
Shout it from the rooftops, Sister! I echo your words. I see new meaning to the words of my own blog . . . insert GRACE here*******
Becca - March 5th, 2013 at 2:41 PM
More grace for the church. I struggle with that so much. Our pastor has been doing a series lately and using Jeremiah 29:11 to back up a point that we have a future. There was some discussion that he may have been using this verse out of context so I started reading Jeremiah from the beginning to understand the context of the scripture. The similarities I saw between the American church and the people Jeremiah was warning broke my heart.

"Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy." Jeremiah 5:27-28

I need lots of grace of the church. Thanks for this.
Aimee - March 5th, 2013 at 2:46 PM
Thank you for this! I needed to hear it so badly right now :)
Laura - March 5th, 2013 at 2:47 PM
Love this! Thank you for sharing the truth even when it's difficult. God bless you and your family!
Jessica - March 5th, 2013 at 2:52 PM
It's a pretty well established aspect of human psychology that we attribute our own errors to circumstances.

I'd had a tough day, that's why I grumped at my kids.

The sun was in my eyes, that's why I didn't see that guy that I just cut off.

I normally wouldn't cut in line, but, my child with autism is going to have a meltdown if I don't get out of here soon and I really, really, really need no meltdowns today.


But, on the flip side, when we see someone else do the same thing, we are most likely going to attribute it to some inherent character flaw.

Did you see how she just spoke to her child? I would NEVER do that.

That jerk just cut me off! I guess he thinks he's the king of the road!!!!

That woman just cut.....what an amazing example she's setting for her kids. They'll grow up being just as entitled as she is.

You get the point.

I've been trying to keep this in mind when I'm out jogging. Jog in cities and you will have run ins with cars very frequently. I'm an extremely safe person so I tend to wait at cross walks for lights and clear roads, and yet, every few weeks I have a near miss from someone racing a light or looking left for traffic as they pull across a sidewalk I was approaching from the right. My standard response is hands thrown up in the air with my angry, ugly face in place and my mind full of thoughts of how stupid and horrible at driving they are. The response I'm trying to learn is #1 SAFETY (getting mad and not paying attention to what is going on around me is dumb) and #2 GRACE (no assumptions made of their character - just establish that everything is fine and move on).

I definitely have more luck some days than others.
Dee Bratcher - March 5th, 2013 at 2:54 PM
Jen - a friend posted your recent Blog on her page and so it showed up on my page & I read it and was very blessed! I'm grieving right now and it ministered to me. So - is this OK? I quoted part of it on my page, attributed it to you; but I don't know "the rules" - should I have asked you first? If so, please forgive me.
Thank you for sharing your heart so openly. I pray you are successful in allowing His grace to reign in and through you more & more. I pray it for me, too. : ) Love, Dee
Jennifer - March 5th, 2013 at 3:01 PM
Beautiful post. Thanks be to God for His infinite Grace.

On another note, I wonder, have you ever heard of, or read about, or considered the Orthodox Christian Church? I have taken that journey and (though it sounds cliche), it has answered every question and every longing I ever had for the Church, for a life of repentance but full of Grace, for mission, purpose.....
Gretchen - March 5th, 2013 at 3:10 PM
Thank you! My kids definitely deserve more grace from me.
Jess - March 5th, 2013 at 3:11 PM
Spot on!
Monica - March 5th, 2013 at 3:16 PM
I needed to read and soak every bit of this.
Michelle M. - March 5th, 2013 at 3:19 PM
I am not sure how I stumbled upon your page, but I absolutely love it! Currently, I am not attending church due to work schedule, but I won't lie- family trouble and church expectations brought me to utter exhaustion. I have slowly been reading through Job and journalling. This reminds me of thoughts I had after Chapter 13, vs. 2 "I know as much as you do. You are no better than I am." (NLT) I tend to allow myself to think others are superior, and competition is just as exhausting as the trouble we find ourselves in from time to time! The struggles in our home felt like a literal hell. One in which I easily condemned myself for (and still do.) Accusations and misery came from all angles- myself speaking just as loudly. But, here it is....vs. 2. None of us are superior, all of us try to be at times, too, unfortunately. But, I must cling to the undeserving grace for myself, his forgiveness, his cleansing blood and boldly go to his throne....even though my head hangs in shame and feel I do not deserve to go there. And I need to give that same grace. It is not a "You are wrong, I am right" war. It is a war of boldness- to stay under his grace. 1 Tim. 1:7 ....all opposite of what takes place in my mind. We need power for our troubles we face, love and a sound (not anxious) mind.....and when others find themselves in a similar place, what do we give them? Fear? Do I do that as a mom? Wife? It is easy to see how we have been hurt while suffering, but do I learn from that and choose to empower others while they are suffering.....or do I forget Job 13:2? Interesting that God keeps showing me this. I love reading your posts. I appologize for writing so much, I can't help myself.....
Susan O. - March 5th, 2013 at 3:21 PM
Grace. Hope. Relationships with God and his people (we are ALL God's children). Nothing else really matters. Thanks for this today.
Carly H - March 5th, 2013 at 3:30 PM
Great word...thank you :)
Robin - March 5th, 2013 at 3:42 PM
"my full car is God%u2019s tool for my personal sanctification" = bahahaha and YES, AMEN SISTER!

so timely - I am in serious need of showing my husband and kids some grace. oh and myself for not showing them grace before and then beating myself up about it.....
Wanda - March 5th, 2013 at 3:43 PM
From a heart that needed this....thank you!

Grace is my WORD for 2013 and I love how everywhere I turn, I run right into more of it!
Tammy - March 5th, 2013 at 3:44 PM
Jen, you will never know how grateful I am that I found you. Sometimes I think my words have come out of your mouth. I have struggled so long with marriage and church issues. I thank you for validating my feelings. It's nice not to feel alone:)
Faith - March 5th, 2013 at 3:46 PM
I totally needed to read this today. Thank you so much. I have only gone to church 2 times since September. I am full of hatred towards staff members and situations that have happened at our church. I love Jesus, but I hated going to church. I never thought as a 24 year old, I would say that. THANK YOU. You rock!!!!
Stacy Gruhn - March 5th, 2013 at 4:04 PM
Hooray for this. I loved it. That is all. :)
Cheryl - March 5th, 2013 at 4:14 PM
"And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we seek your face. Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy. Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord." -Daniel 3:41-43
janis - March 14th, 2013 at 12:08 PM
I have been unable to find your ref of Daniel 3: 41-43. Daniel 3 has only 30 verses. Please advise with your corrected reference. I try to locate all verses I can find related to "heart" in the bible.
Kim - August 11th, 2013 at 3:21 PM
I Googled it and it's from the New American Bible, a Catholic version.
Rea - March 5th, 2013 at 4:29 PM
Oh how I needed this. Grace for myself? When all I can find are cruel words to say about myself. Grace for my husband? When I am SO ANGRY at the way he treats his body and really I'm just scared of losing him. Grace for my kids? When I told my oldest it wasn't a good idea to do a group project for science fair and being proved right means last minute presentation board work...

Oh, how desperately I need grace.
Anna - March 5th, 2013 at 4:49 PM
Love it. Grace has been my mantra for 2.5 years. It's all grace.
Doris - March 5th, 2013 at 5:47 PM
Awesomely Awesome! Thank you!
Sherri - March 5th, 2013 at 5:52 PM
amen.....
Holly - March 5th, 2013 at 6:42 PM
Timely...but we already knew that about Him didn't we?
I am an Army brat who married an Air Force pilot. Just about every three years of my life I find myself hunting for a church...I like to be more sarcastic than that and call it, shopping for my new family, but I digress. We are 'new' again, right now, in Northern California and I am just weary. I know some people might long for fresh starts or wonder what the heck is wrong with being new all the time (it has a sort of glamor if you only think about the 'clean slate' and not the 'lonely slate') but right now I'm just pooped about the whole thing. The whole 'church' thing. And GRACE is exactly what I needed to be reminded of. I am imperfect and I like to forget that when I walk into a church that so obviously has the most simple things screwed UP. I am weary of being new, I don't care who knows it but ThankYou Jesus for Jen's words today - I need grace and so does every church I walk into....even if the backdrop on the stage last week could have build 4 water pumps...even if.
Melissa Irwin - March 5th, 2013 at 6:49 PM
It's so hard. All of this resonated with me. ALL of it. I remind myself of this all the time but it struck me solidly here. Thank you.
Sara - March 5th, 2013 at 7:15 PM
I needed this so much! Thank you!
ellembee - March 5th, 2013 at 7:19 PM
I've been meditating on John 1:16 for days now: "For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." Grace upon grace...these words are so precious to me. I'm with you on this one.
Karen Graham - March 5th, 2013 at 8:01 PM
Beautiful words of the offer of grace. BUT A CHURCH SPENT 4 MILLION DOLLARS ON A FISH TANK!!! MY WORD!!
Beth - March 5th, 2013 at 8:03 PM
This I know is true....I need grace...I need to extend grace. Amen sister.
shelley - March 5th, 2013 at 8:04 PM
thank you! much needed reminder with my kiddos, even almost 7 years into adoption. i really do forget that they are just trying to figure this all out.
Leah Stewart - March 5th, 2013 at 8:05 PM
Whoo hoo SISTER!!! WORK!!!!! Go on...go on!!! Amen and hallelujah. Pass the mercy. This was so needed...for me, for everyone, for the church...they will know
Us by our love.
Ana - March 5th, 2013 at 8:07 PM
"I so desperately want it said of me that I loved well." Yes! Me too. Started following you recently and have *loved* your last 2 posts.
Susan - March 5th, 2013 at 8:09 PM
I'm glad I read this. I was thinking of taking a sabbatical from the church for a while because I am so discouraged by what I see; but, I guess I'll stick it out. The Lord knows we all need more grace, and forgiveness, and love, and mercy, compassion and kindness. Me as well as others.
Caitlin - March 5th, 2013 at 8:18 PM
Perfect timing.... really needing grace right now in my marriage. Stressed, fearful of what's to come-or what's not to come- changes...etc and its creating tension between the two of us. I am trying to step back, remind myself to show patience and grace and most importantly...spend more time in the word and prayer.
Thank you for sharing and uplifting me.
Smiles,
Caitlin
kathy - March 5th, 2013 at 8:20 PM
AWESOME! Just listened to a teaching by R C Sproul this weekend teaching about how kindness leads to repentance...I too struggle so much with the church! We have been in a wilderness for 2 years now...Losing our daughter was the most difficult things we have ever faced in our lives...I lost my mother young..age 58, my only brother at 48, and now my daughter who had just turned 30....this is the worst nightmare a mother will ever go through...without Him I would have been in an institution somewhere...She was pregnant with her second child who was born at 24 weeks after she hemorrhaged in the brain...Baby Jessi is our miracle of Grace from God! She is such a precious gift! However, after coming back home from having been gone for over a year, we so desperately wanted to be fed! The teaching was so shallow...We had lived under God's wing for all this time in the shadows but wanted so much to continue to learn His ways...has been very disappointing...such shallow, insignificant teachings..haven't been able to find anything in our little town...thank God that He is still there and doesn't need the church to speak to us...still i desire to fellowship with other believers...
Cindy Williams - March 5th, 2013 at 8:27 PM
This is so right on for me. I am not very good at giving grace to all the above. It has been a work in progress, thank you for sharing your heart.
Cindy Williams
Dawn - March 5th, 2013 at 8:30 PM
YES!! Can we meet for coffee? I live in Seattle so that might be difficult but your life is confirming much in mine! Keep being you!!
Lori - March 5th, 2013 at 8:34 PM
I tried commenting earlier but it wouldn't let me and then my computer went completely nuts so here I try again. Your words hit me in such a way today. Grace is so much a part of my life. There was a day that I thought I would get to this good place and wouldn't need grace like I did back when I first found Jesus. Grace is what has healed me of drug addiction and given me a life I never dreamed of having. Little did I know how much my life would depend on grace years later.

The area God has been dealing with me is grace and the whole church issue. I was very involved with the church...worked with lost youth as that was my passion(and probably still is) and was training to go into youth ministry(meaning getting paid to do the 40 hours of work I was doing each week) and all of that came crashing down as I started to see the church for what it shouldn't be and I got to the point that I couldn't witness the abuses going on and stomach it. I don't believe in playing church. I just wanted to reach the lost, the hurt, the addicted and those who lived in hell like I once did. It became very apparent that looks, money and prestige were far more important to this church. You don't build a new church off poor, homeless, addicted people. Anyways I walked away from the church in 1999 and just recently started visiting a church again. Mostly because I have a little boy that has begged me to take him. So far this church doesn't appear to play church but I am still afraid and not completely sold on the whole church idea.

The other area God has been speaking loud and clear about is grace towards myself. I am pretty darn good giving it out to everyone else but myself. But I'm working on it. My whole life is founded on grace. I wouldn't be here without it. Grace keeps me from wanting to kill the man that molested my little's. Grace is what I'm trying to heap on myself for not knowing what he was doing. Grace is what I count on because if for one second I reflect on my past and all that I did, all the people I hurt and all that I've been through, my heart wouldn't be able to stand it. Because of grace I can sleep at night, and look at myself in the mirror. Because of grace I can share my story. Because of grace I lived to tell the story of what it's like to live in hell.

Thank you for this post. You have encouraged me with your honesty.
Julianne - March 5th, 2013 at 8:38 PM
Amazing perspective. Totally how I want to raise my children. I hope I can accomplish this.
Mallory - March 5th, 2013 at 8:42 PM
Crazy how we don't give others the things we desire most.
Beth - March 5th, 2013 at 8:45 PM
Grace! The word I may need to have tattooed on my wrist to remind me. In all the areas you've highlighted and more.
Mama Mimi - March 5th, 2013 at 8:55 PM
Yep, yep, and yep! Beautifully written, as always Jen!
Kelli - March 5th, 2013 at 8:55 PM
it was about my office wasn't it. you had to muster a lot of grace for that didn't you? anyway i'm glad you did :)
Trisha - March 5th, 2013 at 8:57 PM
I was in my car today, catching up on FB at a red light, and found myself discouraged by all the whining. I had to do a little exercise where I asked myself, "what do I know for sure?" My conclusion--God is kind. He is good. He delights in me, even at my worst. Such grace. What can we do in response but give it, especially to the ones we love most?
You have articulated so well what I think God is trying to teach me! Thanks!
Marie - March 5th, 2013 at 8:59 PM
Yes. Amen.
Carolyn - March 5th, 2013 at 9:30 PM
More Grace -yup - learning that myself - also learned that when Christians do stuff I don't agree with God is not thrown off course or shocked - He even uses what looks like to me to be their screw ups to advance the cause of His Kingdom - He uses weak people, weird people, people who like boring music and have bad hair, even the uptight and judgemental ones - He loves them and if I want to be like Him I've got to show them Grace.
Aimee - March 5th, 2013 at 9:36 PM
Thank you. I've been praying for Grace for a daughter who knows Him but now refuses Him. Grace for this young adult who is listening to the loud clanging noise of this world instead of the still quiet voice of our Lord. Grace when you, as a parent, do not know how to show this grace because of the sadness & disappointment you have, yet you know youve disappointed in the same way. It's so hard to love & adore yet at the same time dislike their actions? Wisdom from anyone who's walked this?
Stephanie - March 5th, 2013 at 9:47 PM
Aimee, I was that girl once, half a life ago, who knew The Lord and turned away, despite my upbringing...to spite anyone and everyone who ever told me differently. Those were dark times, but my stepmom prayed me through them, and I came out on the other side. Keep praying, girl. God's got her, you know He does. And He's got you, too. Tonight I will lift the both of you in prayer. Take care.
Mandy - March 5th, 2013 at 10:05 PM
I don't know you but I loved your post! I need to learn to show more grace to my children, my husband and myself. Thanks for sharing!
Renee - March 5th, 2013 at 10:50 PM
LOVED THIS POST! I'm sending it to EVERYBODY!
Andrea - March 5th, 2013 at 11:39 PM
Great post, but I am so disturbed by that fish tank. Seriously??!!!
Bj Hickman - March 6th, 2013 at 12:42 AM
Oh. My. Goodness. You are my voice. Everything you wrote I've experienced and feel. All of it. Thank you, Jen.
Wendy - March 6th, 2013 at 6:18 AM
I love it Jen, it's like Jesus said, "The good news... It's Grace!"
Lynn - March 6th, 2013 at 6:24 AM
Jen - I'm a new reader, but I feel like I've been reading for forever. I couldn't have written this better myself (probably because I'm not one of those "official" writers...lol.) I've been struggling so badly with having grace for myself that it put me on crazy pills and depression watch. I don't say that to poke fun, except maybe at myself, but I guess therein lies the problem, right?! Oy. Anyway, thank you for this post - I forwarded it to my husband (who doesn't 'do' blogs) and he so appreciated it as well, and I'm glad a few friends had the grace to turn me onto your blog! :)
Naomi - March 6th, 2013 at 7:22 AM
I've been dealing with this issue myself. Grace and love as opposed to always being right - with my husband, our children and the church. Asking Christ to pour His grace out through me. Because if nothing else, He deserves my obedience to love as He's loved me.
Crissy - March 6th, 2013 at 8:08 AM
I'm a drill Sargent mom and tireless unhappy wife at times. Grace to my husband who keeps trying and wants to see this marriage to the death (be it may he might kill me to get us there..**note sarcasm there**)
Lord forgive me, strengthen me in baby jail, in my exhausted, weak and bored times. Empty me and fill me with You. How will my 5, 2 and 8 month old babies ever want you if I don't live you out in my life in a way that shows just how good you are.
Thanks Jen. Me and the hubby got in a knock down drag out (well maybe a 5 min match of me yelling and him angry) last night. This thing about grace hit me in the mouth this morning... Lord bless my huge mouth
Kimberly - March 6th, 2013 at 8:09 AM
I woke up ready to post on Facebook.."Why is there so much meanness around? Why so critical?" Then I saw your post and was reminded of GRACE! Thank you! This calmed my frustrated heart this morning!
Blessings!
Laura - March 6th, 2013 at 8:49 AM
Thanks! I find this a breath of fresh air and a kick in the tail all at the same time. Perspective... I think I'm wrapped up in mine most of the time rather than in God's. May the Lord help us all!
rachel greiman - March 6th, 2013 at 8:58 AM
this was perfect for me this morning. i am SO quick to be judgmental...mostly of other people. but it comes from an insecurity within myself, a bad order of priorities and a world-lens instead of a GOD-lens. more than anything, it comes from a lack of grace. i have been shown grace from the day i was born - how can i forget to extend it to others?? this baffles me. but it's a daily decision. find grace, show grace, accept grace, BE GRACE. thank you so much for the reminder.
Carol Dickinson - March 6th, 2013 at 11:27 AM
In Gods Word it says..."For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" Wonderful scripture and wondeful article. Grace and even faith is given to us to operate in when we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in our heart that He was raised from the dead. In Christ when we pray asking God for more grace for those who have transgressed against us or against others... whether in small ways or very big ways... Christ will give us this supernatural grace. Peace and love will rush in where before there was only choas.
Danielle Diehl - March 6th, 2013 at 11:28 AM
I needed this--especially the grace for the children. I "surprised" my child (and myself!!) with mercy the other day and he was stopped-in-his-tracks shocked (and confused, think). I have to keep reminding myself, "it's the kindness of God...everything." But oh my goodness, that FISH TANK. I want to march in there with a sledgehammer!!! Sheesh!!!!
Carol_Dickinson@comcast.net - March 6th, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Ephesians 2:8..."For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" Wonderful article. Grace and even faith is given to us to operate in when we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in our heart that He was raised from the dead. In Christ when we pray asking God for more grace, faith and even love and mercy for those who have transgressed against us or against others... whether in small ways or very big and bad ways... this grace that Christ will supernaturally give to us as we walk with Him... will us to forgive the offenders and to show grace. Seeing folks through Gods eyes knowing that He wants them to be saved and continue walking with Him more than we do... His Grace in us operating through our mouth and mainly our heart for that person will happen... as we yeild ourselves completely over to the Holy Spirit our comforter, teacher and guide. Practice praying then walking with God daily... and grace and faith will naturally & supernaturally flow through you. But you must decide if you will allow it to. We can do nothing without Christ. But we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! Amen. Thank you Heavenly Father. We love you and thank you that you are in our lives helping and guiding us daily... even in showing grace to those around us... for in fact we ourselves desire this from others also. So Thank you Lord. Please fill us with your Holy Spirit and your grace and love... that we may inturn share it with others around us. In Yeshua HaMessiah's name we pray. Amen. (Yeshua is the Hebrew way to say Jesus)
Flower Patch Farmgirl - March 6th, 2013 at 12:19 PM
I am starting to believe that wonderment is one of the keys that unlocks grace in me. If I can start to believe that the ground beneath me is a miracle, the air around me was made just for me, the little people beside me are wiry little ribbon-tied gifts...I don't know, it changes things.

I surprised Rubester with mercy yesterday and the biggest surprise was (of course - duh) for me. It felt so dang good. So why would we ever doubt that God lavishes so much more on us?

I like what you're doing here, Jen Hatmaker. I sure do.

PS - Can I please add that the Church could also use less Big Butter Jesus and Hug Me Jesus? Oy. Give me Grace...
stacy - March 6th, 2013 at 2:38 PM
I appreciate this post today. I need more grace. I need grace for my kids--I can relate to "surprise them with mercy", that jumped out at me. I need more grace for myself BIG TIME. Hello, I am my own worse enemy. Those voices that say nasty things about me and especially enjoy saying "not you" can get so loud. I have to stop and listen for that whisper that says "I love you" & "It is for you". Grace for the church. . . well, I hear ya. I felt so lonely in my big Christian community. I didn't feel like what we were doing looked very much like Jesus. I was the newcomer so clearly I just needed more "growth". During that time of loneliness, God continued to pursue me. He started showing me what He has called me to do. He led me to meet a few new people with whom I can share my true heart.
Thanks for this. I needed the reminder to give grace and be willing to receive it also.

Kristi - March 6th, 2013 at 3:10 PM
Love this. Especially this line: "It reminds us we are brothers and sisters, not demigods over one another."

It makes me wonder where did we get the idea that Jesus called us to be "more RIGHT" (I mean that in a "correct" sense, not in a political right-left sense) instead of more loving.
Dianne - March 6th, 2013 at 6:00 PM
Wow. I have been struggling the past few days with feeling very mean, hateful, and horrible. Such a God thing to put this blog post in my path via FB. Thank You, Jesus, for these words that I so needed to hear. Forgive me, Father.
Lil Hogan - March 6th, 2013 at 6:10 PM
Thanks for sharing this wonderful article. Grace, love , God's gift to us , to be shared with all. The world will be a better place.
Amy - March 6th, 2013 at 6:19 PM
Yes! So easy for me to be critical, so hard to show grace! Thank goodness that He supplies it for us...praying for it now as my two year old throws a temper tantrum for because i won't let him eat the coffee beans!!!
Erin - March 6th, 2013 at 10:43 PM
This is hilarious. Two yr olds are a trip!
Brittany C - March 6th, 2013 at 8:54 PM
Thank you for your courage and boldness to put this out there for all to see! Thank you for allowing God to use you to change our hearts and our minds to be more like Him! Thank you! I needed to read this today! I am motivated and encouraged to continue forward on the narrow path. Agreeing with you in prayer! May Grace ruin us all and change the world. May Grace take over the Church and every home I the Kingdom!
Steve - March 8th, 2013 at 11:11 AM
As maybe the only male commenter (I looked and couldn't find another), I have to call your writing what it is - inspired...full of God's revelation. In fact, I find it hard to call it your writing at all.

Grace is such a super-human concept that we must consume it contextually - with real life as our classroom and the Holy Spirit the teacher.

Thanks for trusting in Him and what He says about you enough to share your "homework assignments" with the rest of the class. I, for one, am taking notes.
Jennifer - March 9th, 2013 at 3:46 AM
Amen

Tiffany - March 9th, 2013 at 10:31 AM
So inspiring and true. Thank you so much for sharing your gifts with us! Makes me want to shout Amen!
Diane - March 9th, 2013 at 11:00 AM
that was so sneaky of you to embed into the need for grace for the church that link to the church aquarium thing that made me sick over the amount spent to do such a thing and reared my frustration with the church and gave the HS perfect opportunity to convict me. awesome. perfect application in the midst of my agreement. gr. :)
Teresa Nix - March 12th, 2013 at 7:04 AM
Just Thank You. I have many situations in my life that call for Grace. You hit on every one of them. Keep writing. CS Lewis said, "We read to know we are not alone." I am not alone. Thank you.
Kara - March 12th, 2013 at 6:07 PM
Oh, man, did I need this today. I am, at times, so demanding of my husband and children, that I cringe when I think back on things I have said, eyes I have rolled. Don't even get me started on the Church. I'm so cynical it's ridiculous. So, here's to Grace. Thanks for the soul-bearing reminder.

And what is up with that fish tank? For real?
Samantha Livingston - March 13th, 2013 at 10:44 AM
Amen and amen! I love the way you write, say it like it is, and talk about your hypothetical situations and tattoos. :)
Kathy Schwanke - March 13th, 2013 at 2:33 PM
Amen. Do you think a lot of our issues would be more clear regarding 'the church' if we acknowledged that the wheat grows together with the tares until the harvest? Might we would do better with the grace thing? Jesus was always so composed. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees...now lets keep walkin' and if they don't receive you, shake the dust off your feet and move on..."
And, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?

Beth @ In Good Cents - March 13th, 2013 at 3:48 PM
Wonderful message. Thank you so much for the reminder.
Shelley - March 16th, 2013 at 7:39 AM
Thank you so much for your honesty. I needed your message today.
Laura - March 16th, 2013 at 2:38 PM
I really needed to read this today. I cannot go on websites other then fb really on my phone, too much to load. I have been wanting to read this since I saw a link on my fb for it. I visited my dad today, and pulled it up and am SO happy I did. Specifically learning more grace for my husband and my children. It is a everyday effort and something that I need a push on, and this helped a lot. Thank you for being so honest.
joy - March 16th, 2013 at 5:32 PM
God GRACIOUSLY led me to your post today, a day when I need to extend grace to my husband, kids and the Church. Thanks for sharing your heart, Jen.
Lin Haraway - March 18th, 2013 at 6:35 AM
Thank you for this post. As to the negative Nellies and Neds, I say to read Isaiah 50: 4-9 and carry on. I think some people read you as if you are condemning their gifts in favor of your own. This probably stems from either jealousy, conviction of actual sin of theirs, or failure to realize their own blessedness. When people feel threatened and fail to pray before they think (Read: This is what I do, unfortunately.), they retaliate. Christians are some of the worst. If you want to feel you have a sister in this harsh criticism, type, "Beth Moore" into your browser and see what fellow Christians have to say about her. I am not saying I agree with everything you or she says and does. But God uses both of you - and many others, many who are not Christian - to teach me how to be more like Him. Thanks for being part of my faculty.
Stephanie - March 18th, 2013 at 1:00 PM
Great word, Jen! Thank you for leading by example... This spoke to my heart...deeply and in the places where I am wrestling.
Tracey - March 18th, 2013 at 3:17 PM
Beautifully said! I wish I was named Grace.
jill - March 18th, 2013 at 4:56 PM
wow. thank you.

Courtney - March 18th, 2013 at 9:38 PM
Man, girl. You hit me in the stomach with that one. Thanks.
Rachel - March 21st, 2013 at 1:25 PM
Following in the spirit of '7' a few of us gals are spending April doing a marriage challenge. Keeping each other accountable to reading scripture as a couple, memorizing scripture as a couple, reading marriage books, having intimate discussions about intimacy, going on weekly dates, and definitely having lots of sex with our husbands. I'm putting this blog entry down on my list of reading to encourage and enlighten all the gals doing this challenge. Thanks for being our encourager and friend - even though you are unaware of it!
Henry Oakley - March 23rd, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Mrs Hatmaker, Have you been reading my mail? Grace for the Church is exactly where I/ we have been for a year and a half. The same books , with the exception of Micah. The same thoughts. The same encouraging fruit that I have been witnessing. The people that I have been put into relationship with. God is speaking and he is saying the same thing to those who are listening. Thanks for your blog. This is the first time that I have read it, a sister in Christ told me of it, thinking of me and the revelation that I have had in the truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Keep fighting the good fight, your brother in Christ , Henry Oakley salisbury MD.
Heidi - April 1st, 2013 at 2:28 PM
Thank you so much for this! I stumbled upon this today. I could not agree more... and recognize areas I must work on as well! Blessings!
Jennifer - June 1st, 2013 at 4:27 PM
I started googling word combos involving marriage, respect and grace to seek wise words, inspiration and courage for a rough patch in my marriage. I can't relate to someone that sounds so perfect, as these women did. I found lots and lots of well-meaning, wise women writing ad nauseum about serving our husbands, our families, respecting our husbands because the Bible says so. And, that's great, but I sat here thinking "OK, but HOW?!?!" I need some REAL advice...so I popped over to your blog and did a search on marriage...viola! Thank you for real, honest words. Thank you for admitting that 19 years of marriage is hard, that it contains horrible disagreements, that it contains annoyances like open cabinet doors and iCalendar disputes. (HA!) But, the answer is always Grace. It's not easy, but it's grace! Thank you for sharing!
Bri - June 11th, 2013 at 6:27 PM
You and I must share a brain, thank you for this!
Jacy - June 14th, 2013 at 7:17 AM
This one small idea ... offering the benefit of the doubt with abandon ... has the power to transform our world, our hearts. WHY IS IT SO HARD? Struggling daily; so many thoughts of "getting hit by the same truck over and over again" yet isn't this what Jesus does for us each time he forgives us, shows us grace and mercy?

Thanks for telling me again what I already know (in theory anyway). Please repeat often.

deirdre - July 23rd, 2013 at 8:59 AM
O MY WORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I could have used the "marriage" paragraph about 5 min before I read this and the "kids" section about 10 min ago!!!!! Hard day and hard week!!!! being very hard on myself, my kids and my hubby!!!! needed this TODAY!!!!!!!! thank you!!!!!!!
JenB - July 23rd, 2013 at 9:00 AM
How timely that IF shared this today on Facebook. I read this back in the spring, but perhaps I needed to hear your thinking on grace even more today. More grace for my kids -- hands down. And, my husband I aren't mushy -- in fact, we just got 20th anniversary tattoos on our ring fingers and I am so glad we are who we are!
Amanda - July 23rd, 2013 at 9:30 AM
AMEN, sweet Jen. I've been ruined by shame and condemnation over the past several years (mainly self-imposed), and even at the same time I'm being ruined by his Grace. Bible college and church politics kind of ruined my idyllic picture of Church, and my "perfect" theology turned out to be mostly words and not enough living and loving. I'm still figuring this all out, still figuring out how to live Grace, especially in my messiest, closest relationships. It is SO HARD to love sacrificially when you think you're doing your very best and then your husband says that one thing that makes all the mommy guilt come crashing down, even though he meant it in love. And it's so hard to love sacrificially and give grace and not yell when my 2-year old was up at 3:30, 4:30, and 5, and then I got up for work at 5:30. But then I was reading in 2 Corinthians about carrying around the death of Christ in our bodies, and about how we suffer so that the world would know that it is Christ doing the work in us... and then this. And now I kind of want a tattoo. xoxo
Shelley - July 23rd, 2013 at 9:59 AM
Wake up call for me! I am so glad that I clicked on this and read your post. AMEN! There have been trials this week..... This was something I needed to read and take in. Thank you for the reminder!!
Rebekah - July 23rd, 2013 at 10:17 AM
Preach it! Seriously, I've been a little, ok a lot, ok a ton lacking in the grace department lately. let's do this!
Wendy - July 23rd, 2013 at 11:43 AM
I LOVE receiving grace -- in fact, I expect it. I have to PRAY that Jesus' spirit flows out of me so that I love to give it, and until I do love to give it, to give it anyway.

I think we'd all show a lot more grace if we were speaking face-to-face, eye-to-eye, and not typing out words on an email/screen/comment/tweet for one another. I have a friend who prays against a spirit of cynicism, and it always hits me that I, the world and the Church is guilty of it. (Cynic: 1. A person who believes all people are motivated by selfishness. 2. A person whose outlook is scornfully and often habitually negative. Thank you to "The Free Dictionary.")

And I do believe that God commands/expects believers to sharpen one another and lovingly address/confess our sins in a pursuit of holiness, but doesn't that sharpening happen best in a group of loving friends and co-laborers? -- not in a sharp or exhortative comment from an unknown person (However, in this spirit of grace, many of the unknown masses are well-meaning, I think, and deserving of grace right backatcha for ill-timed or harsh comments).

The grace-giving happens over a meal, or a one-on-one conversation where you hear the tone and see the person -- a living, breathing person lovingly crafted and gifted by God. The Internet and social media world gives us a false sense of relationship, and we'd better use it carefully especially when attempting to exhort or edify each other (or just plan call someone out). If we really claim and desire to love others, well then,

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12
Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9 (ouch)
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

So, now, reading those words breathed by God, I need to go apologize to my husband (again, but without the explana-lecture that ruined the apology yesterday)...

and I need to smile and praise God for Him even when (always, without fail) I can't see the time of day on the microwave and have to clear out the last few seconds because he nukes everything at "beverage". (A minor, but continual, conflict, like that of mosquitoes in summer).

You know, he's usually prepping food not for himself, but for one of our brood anyway, and he does dishes, floors and undie laundry too, praise the Lord.

Update: I did apologize over the phone in the midst of typing this comment, and he said he chalked it up to 'sexual tension' (my summary). Thatta boy. Some arguments (even the biggies) have simple solutions.

Here's a good word, Jen:
Don%u2019t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. I Timothy 4:12-13
Wendy - July 23rd, 2013 at 11:49 AM
And may there be grace about the length of my previous comment.

I rarely every comment on any blog (this may be number 3) and I guess it built up.
Pam - July 23rd, 2013 at 7:49 PM
Wow. Just what I need to hear. A remembrance of what's important... mercy and grace. To love mercy, to do justly and to walk humbly with God. And stop judging who I think is not. Thanks.
Sandy Averill - July 23rd, 2013 at 9:41 PM
Amen and Amen. God had you write this for me, just today when I needed it most, and couldn't agree more. Bless you sister. May grace abound.
Ally - July 24th, 2013 at 7:11 AM
Thanks for this post. I am still in shock over that fish tank.
Anne Davie - August 6th, 2014 at 12:09 AM
Just finding you.. thanks for sharing your words and your heart!
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